I've been thinking about writing this review for AGES... Bareback
as it is known in the UK markets and Benighted
in the US markets is written by Kit Whitfield
. Someone who I had never heard of, but hope to the dog that she returns with more words for me to enjoy.
I can't really think how to describe this book, it's part Sci-Fi, part crime, part romance, part literary masterpiece (it's certainly as well written as MANY classic masterpieces and a deal better than some of said pieces!) It just doesn't sit in one genre, and it doesn't need to. I agree with Kit on what she has written in her FAQ's
about 'the book' under the "Why" heading.
What can I say about this story that won't give the plot away, how can I intriuge you the reader to find this book and be blown away buy the characters,whose emotions are just so similar to ours, whose movement through life is just a little to close to the bone in some situations? Or maybe the plot which moves from simple murder to relationships and then on to the complicated aspects of establishing crime reasoning and emotional deconstructions?
Our lead character Lola, takes us on her journey through the world where she is the minority. when the rest of the world 'furs' up, she must go out and patrol for the recalitrant's and put them into care. She show's how hard her job is, how draining and how disenfranchising it can be to be part of that minority. She is we who are Gen X and Gen Y as we are now. Lola works for a governmental agency known as DORLA. it could be any agency quite frankly. We are introduced to people higher up the food chain and also at the same level. We meet Lola's family - well part of it - and see how even in the family Lola was a minority. We are introduced to Lola's love life or what passes for it.
We meet other players in the book who range from Ally the co-worker, Paul the social worker, Dick Ellaway the yuppie, Bride the co-worker/friend and Becca the sister amongst many supporting characters. Each character is given a complete personality with out laborious details being applied. Each person is created quickly and quite completely that it's hard to forget them. The realism in the people is like looking at what could essentially be anyone around you at work, at school or amongst your friends.
What essentially happens in this book is that Kit Whitfield has skillfully created a world just like ours, but with the alternate reality of the majority of the populace is born feet first, this is the norm, and what creates the divide for the minority who are born head first or if you want to use the jargon from the book - 'barebacks'. All the barebacks are conscripted to the agency DORLA - Dept for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity but don't think 'Werewolves' cause you won't find that word or really that stereotypical activities/discriptions anywhere in this book. This is no fantasy for lovers of the four legged critters to fawn over, this is the real world and it's shown in all it's harsh realities and truths. We watch Lola stumble, walk, run or even sit/sleep through tense, happy, confusing, teary situation's and the list goes on as it does in our own lives. People are murdered and Lola must find the truth in this while her own life and that of her fellow agents are in jeopdy. Reader beware though as just as you think you see a plot device approaching you explode into a whole other direction, or have it taken away from you and replaced with a new idea, action or thought.
I think it would be fair to say that this book is going to be "THE" book I read this year.. it's going to move on to the top shelf and be re-read again and again. I was held to it pretty much from the start of the book. I sadly must admit I NEARLY didn't pick it up due to the title alone.. But as is with many of the great things in life they come at us from left field and this was deffinately there. I look forward to reading Ms Whitfields next tome 'In Great Waters'